Dateline The French Quarter, New Orleans Louisiana. Today turned out to be quite a day for Your Intrepid Cancer Cure Rider. Yours Truly decided to take the trolley down to the Riverwalk on the Mighty Mississippi River and walk up into the French Quarter. En route I saw the Riverboat Naches moored and took a few pictures before walking on by.
Suddenly I looked up to find people scurrying around on the boat grabbing grappling rods and life rings. Upon viewing the scene and putting my more than ample detective skills to work, I deduced that some Riverboat Natchez deck hands had been at the end of a boarding ramp that was suspended out over the water, anchored at the boat end. The tie-downs gave way and their end fell towards the water, only to be stopped by a crane that was also attached. Two deck hands were hanging on for dear life at the bottom of that inverted boarding ramp.
And then for some reason Your Intrepid Cancer Cure Rider started paying attention. That’s when I saw the man in the river. He was swimming under the pier that the Naches is moored to and was getting tired. I called to him, he said he was OK and would hang onto a piling, rest, and swim to shore. So I handed my camera off to a couple who seemed trustworthy and headed down to the water’s edge. By then the man in the water was swimming towards me again. I got out onto the rocks and got ready to dive in just as he found bottom. I grabbed him and helped him onto shore, barely getting wet myself.
And now the “Paul Harvey”. “Donnie” was not off of the Natchez like I assumed. I think he was a regular hanging out on the banks of the river (perhaps homeless) because he explained that he saw the ramp give way and thought they had gone into the water. He dove in to assist with the rescue because he is a strong swimmer. Indeed he is….when I helped him out he still had his cowboy boots on and I took them off of him and dumped gallons of water from them.
Needless to say, Donnie is a true hero. Without hesitation he risked his own life to try to help save complete strangers. “Heroes In Capes Come In All Walks Of Life”. Dean Shirey. June 18, 2013. New Orleans.
Donnie said he saw a lot of people just walking by, but I stayed with him until he was safe. I said “Well Donnie, I know you’d do the same for me”. He said “Damn right brother”. We shook hands, exchanged feelings of kinship, and I carried on. This picture is of Donnie. He is very, very proud of his embroidered shirt and his cowboy hat, which had thrown to the shore when he dove in. He wouldn’t let me take his picture until he had them again.
From there Yours Truly went to the famous Café’ DuMond and had some chicory coffee and beignets. The I wandered the French Quarter and Bourban Street.
Where Yours Truly met the charming Jena’ Lafont. She has been touched by cancer over and again. Her mother, her Aunt, and many others. We talked about melanoma (which my brother Terry passed from) and she told me about a spot on the back of her shoulder. Bottom line…..I gave her a Cancer Ride America card and asked her to follow the ride and email me some pictures. Instead of donating, I made her promise me she would get her mole looked at on her next day off. As I said to her, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to ask for her phone number so I could call and make sure she kept her promise, but I am counting on her word. Right Jena’??!!
Donnie, Jena’: It was my privilege to meet you both. There is a special place in heaven for you.
Just under one month into this amazing adventure and effort to help find a cure and Your Intrepid Cancer Cure Rider already has enough true stories to write a book. What, indeed, does life hold for me from here on??